Before anything else, I am fully aware of Matthew 6:16-18, where Jesus warned against fasting like hypocrites. This entry isn’t meant to announce my intention to pursue this spiritual discipline and draw attention to what I’m doing, but simply an act of registration to myself and others so that I will be reminded and guided accordingly while I commit to reflection, prayer, and a little sacrifice. At the end of 40 days, the goal is not to say to the world that I have done it, but to be able to assess for myself whether I have achieved a transformation deep within. I’ll try my best to keep a humble, positive and joyful attitude all throughout, knowing that the fruit of fasting is its own reward.
Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of a period of reflection and fasting for Christians to prepare for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The tradition of giving up something for this period is often observed by Catholics and some Protestants as a show of penitence and a symbol of sacrifice in their lives.
Catholics traditionally observe this day by having their foreheads marked with ashes (often in the shape of a cross) made from palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. Such practice symbolizes an act of repentance to start the Lenten season.
The fasting lasts for 40 days, not counting the six Sundays which are not regarded as days of fast. Catholics would often reduce their food intake and abstain from meat.
In our church, however, the 40-day period is achieved by starting on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday, without fast-free days in between. Nonetheless, I’m going the full route and starting today.
The form of fasting among our church members also varies, depending on the conviction and health of the individual. Some choose to skip particular meals, while some abstain from certain food groups (meat, rice, caffeine, etc.). Fasting can also take the form of giving up on certain things for 40 days, like not watching TV, or not using social media and phones.
This isn’t the first time I’m giving up something for Lent, but I hope this is the first time I’ll make it through 40 days.
This time I’m going vegan. Veganism is the practice of abstaining from any animal products. In terms of diet, this means not consuming meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Some products like white sugar are also avoided, since it contains charred animal bones.
I’m not new to a meatless diet, being an ovo-lacto vegetarian for two years before. I’ve learned a lot about food and cooking since then so this should be another good practice of self-denial for me.
I had considered a full Daniel Fast, but based on experience, it’s really practically impossible to not eat some of the items in their “Food to Avoid” list if you’re not in total control of what you eat. It’s hard to navigate dining out with friends and eating in the workplace while maintaining a full-blown commitment. But Dave and my brother did it, so I figure I can do it, too.
Maybe I’ll start with a regular vegan diet for the first two weeks, play it by ear, and if I feel I can take it up a notch, then I’ll go with the Daniel Fast.
Yeah, I’m doing this now, starting with this handful of kamote.
Vegan cat image from http://williammurray.co.uk/rise-vegans